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An Introduction to Printing

introduction : early history of printing : printing in europe : the spread of print : printing in england : printing in scotland : later printing illustration : type faces - gothic or black letter : roman : italic : paper : paper manufacture
Paper manufacture

Paper was ‘invented’ in the civilisations of the Far East, especially China and Korea over two thousand years ago. It was adopted into the Islamic world in the sixth century, and brought to Europe through Venice and other Italian ports that were centres for trading with the Islamic world.

The first paper made in Britain

The first paper to be milled in the British Isles was made by John Tate at his mill near Hertford, the earliest example of his paper being on a printed work dated 1494. Tate’s paper was used by the London printer Wynkyn de Worde during his activities as a printer in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. In 1495 de Worde printed an edition of a work called De proprietatibus rerum by Bartholomew the Englishman (Bartholomaeus Anglicanus), which includes an epilogue with three lines celebrating the arrival of paper to England –

‘And John Tate the yonger, Joye mote he broke
Which late hathe in England doo make this paper thynne
That now in our Englysh this boke is printed inne.’

Almost all of the paper used by printers in England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland before the end of the 17th century was, however, made in paper mills in France or Holland and imported, and after Tate’s death in 1507, there were relatively few mills in England until the 1670s.

Paper making in Scotland

The first paper mill in Scotland was established in 1590 at Dalry in Edinburgh by Mungo and Gideon Russell which operated until c. 1605, the first of only 12 mills to be established in Scotland before 1700, the others being found in Glasgow (two mills), East Lothian (one mill), Berwickshire (one mill), Aberdeen (one mill) and a further six in Edinburgh. The growth of papermaking in Scotland from the end of the 17th century onwards was thanks to two French papermakers Nicolas de Champ and Nicolas Dupin who brought the technical skills of the French papermaking industry to Scotland, establishing their own mills in Edinburgh and Glasgow respectively. As in England, most paper used to print books before 1700 was imported from France or Holland.

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